RNLI Rye Harbour says farewell to Jai Gudgion
After many faithful, dedicated years service to the lifeboat station and the community, Jai says goodbye.
Jai joined the RNLI at Rye Harbour when he was 17 years old although he started attending the station aged just 15. His great uncle was Hon. Sec. at the time and made it clear that his primary duties were making tea for the crew and cleaning the station. It was on his 17th birthday that he was officially allowed to join, and he has never looked back.
What was your motivation to join?
My motivation to join was my family history with the RNLI. My great grandmother lost a brother and cousin in the Mary Stanford disaster. The station reopened in 1966 and original crew included grandfather and uncles. My father also had a spell on the crew and spent many years as treasurer. My grandmother, Betty Broocks, finished recently at the station after 55 years of fundraising. I recall from a young age hearing the maroons going off and racing crew to station to watch the boat launch. It has always been in our family’s blood.
How long did you take till you became helm?
I spent a number of years as a crew member gaining vital experience. I was fortunate to have good people around me at station who had a wealth of knowledge. I was eventually considered for a Helmsman role and passed out in 2005.
Trevor Bryant, a former helm at RNLI Rye Harbour said, ’Jai was always a great asset to the station. Utterly professional, at all times, and he passed on his dedication and love of the RNLI to all those worked and trained with him. His greatest strength was his motivation and training of the crew coming up the ranks. He influenced many of the crew and taught them to be the very best that they could be.’
What was your most memorable shout?
I have had many memorable jobs at Rye Harbour but one that springs to mind was to a trimaran we assisted. It had become compromised after one its hull sections parted in what was, challenging conditions. I was not a helmsman at this time but the person in command trusted me to take the helm. We quickly located the vessel and took four casualties off whilst dropping one of our crew onboard. We transferred the casualties to the Dungeness Lifeboat and took two Dungeness crew back to the Trimaran to assist and distribute weight to prevent a capsize. It was taken in tow by Dungeness and eventually handed over to Dover Lifeboat. The tasking was a great example of a team effort and gave me confidence in my own abilities moving forward. I was grateful to be given that opportunity.
When did you move to RNLI Tower station?
In 2007 I began volunteering on the Thames at Chiswick lifeboat station. I spent five years there mostly on temporary work contracts, gaining experience on the river. In 2012 I began a full time contract at Tower lifeboat station, for a while offering resilience between Tower and Chiswick before committing fully to Tower.
Mike Neild, Tower Commander, summed up Jai in these words,
‘I would describe Jai as one of the most selfless characters I have had the pleasure of meeting. He is a conscientious professional and it’s a pleasure to be in his company both in and away from the work environment. He is considerate and thoughtful whilst remaining firm and unpretentious.
Any individual, or group, would be saddened to say goodbye to Jai as much as he would be welcomed anywhere else.’
Finally, Jai said, ’I will always have great memories of Rye Harbour. I was lucky to join with a decent group of people, some of whom moved on to do different roles within the RNLI.
I wish everyone at Rye Harbour the very best. It’s a shame to have to leave but I have for many years lived and worked in London. Trying to maintain both stations became harder and priorities change. I still commit to voluntary roles within the RNLI including the wellbeing of our crews and giving water safety advice to sites in our area of operations in central London.’
Key facts about the RNLI
The RNLI charity saves lives at sea. Its volunteers provide a 24-hour search and rescue service around the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland coasts. The RNLI operates 238 lifeboat stations in the UK and Ireland and more than 240 lifeguard units on beaches around the UK and Channel Islands. The RNLI is independent of Coastguard and government and depends on voluntary donations and legacies to maintain its rescue service. Since the RNLI was founded in 1824, its lifeboat crews and lifeguards have saved over 142,700 lives.
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